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Triangulating on the Truth

"When shown the lists of firing candidates late yesterday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), perhaps the most outspoken critic of the way Gonzales handled the prosecutor dismissals, said they 'show how amok this process was.'

"'When you start firing people for invalid reasons, just about anyone can end up on a list,' he said. 'It looks like the process was out of control, and if it hadn't been discovered, more would have been fired.'"

Marisa Taylor and Margaret Talev write for McClatchy Newspapers: "The Justice Department last year considered firing two U.S. attorneys in Florida and Colorado, states where allegations of voter fraud and countercharges of voter intimidation have flown in recent years, congressional investigators have learned.

"That brings to nine the number of battleground election states where the Bush administration set out to replace some of the nation's top prosecutors. In at least seven states, it now appears, U.S. attorneys were fired or considered for firing as Republicans in those states urged investigations or prosecutions of alleged Democratic voter fraud."

Gonzales Watch

Laurie Kellman writes for the Associated Press: "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is under new political heat after two more Republicans came out against him. . . .

"Gonzales, who some believed had survived the furor over the firings, came under new pressure Wednesday when Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., became the fourth Republican senator to urge him to resign. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., also said the attorney general should consider stepping down."

A Letter From Leahy

Klaus Marre writes in The Hill: "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday sent a strongly worded letter to President Bush's counsel Fred Fielding and threatened to issue subpoenas if the White House continues to 'stonewall' an investigation into its involvement in the firing of several U.S. attorneys.

" 'It appears from the evidence gathered by the Committee in five hearings, eight interviews with current and former officials from the Department of Justice and review of the limited documents produced by that Department that White House officials played a significant role in developing and implementing the plan for the dismissals,' Leahy said. 'Indeed, the plan seems to have originated in the White House and was formulated by and with coordination of the White House political operation.' . . .

"The chairman noted that Bush administration officials repeatedly have said that nothing improper took place in connection with the firings of the U.S. attorneys. However, Leahy argued, the White House also has not provided any evidence to support such a claim.

" 'The White House cannot have it both ways -- it cannot withhold the documents and witnesses and thereby stonewall the investigation and, at the same time, claim that it knows of nothing improper,' Leahy said."

From that letter, some news:

"According to documents and testimony, [Sara] Taylor, the head of the White House political operation and deputy of Mr. Rove's, and [Scott] Jennings, another aide to Mr. Rove, were involved in the discussions and planning that led to the removal of Bud Cummins and bypassing the Senate confirmation process to install Tim Griffin, another former aide to Mr. Rove, as U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas. They were part of a group that discussed using the Attorney General's expanded authority under the Patriot Act reauthorization to avoid the opposition of the Arkansas Senators by appointing Mr. Griffin as interim indefinitely. . . .


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